Daily Mail

Watchdog apologises to Rose over Farage debacle

- By Calum Muirhead

The UK’s data watchdog has apologised to former NatWest boss Alison Rose after admitting it was ‘incorrect’ to imply she breached data protection laws by discussing the details of the bank’s relationsh­ip with Nigel Farage.

The Informatio­n Commission­er’s Office (ICO) last month appeared to suggest in a report that Rose broke the rules by confirming that former Ukip leader Farage had accounts with Coutts, NatWest’s private banking arm, to a BBC journalist.

But the regulator said two days later it would review its findings ‘as a matter of urgency’. The watchdog acknowledg­ed it ‘did not investigat­e a complaint against Ms Rose’ and did not give her an opportunit­y to comment on the ruling. This was followed by a humiliatin­g admission yesterday when the ICO said it was ‘incorrect’ for it to have suggested that the ex-banking boss had breached data protection rules. A spokesman stressed that its investigat­ion had been solely focused on NatWest itself as a ‘data controller’.

In a statement, the ICO said: ‘Our comments gave the impression that we had investigat­ed the actions of Alison Rose, the former chief executive of NatWest Group. This was incorrect.

‘We confirm that we did not investigat­e Ms Rose’s actions, given that NatWest was the data controller under investigat­ion.

Our investigat­ion did not find that Ms Rose breached data protection law and we regret that our statement gave the impression that she did.’

The admission is a boost for Rose ( pictured), who resigned in July in the wake of the scandal. The 54- year- old is awaiting a decision by the NatWest board on whether to withhold part of her £10m pay packet which includes share awards and bonuses.

Victoria Scholar, an analyst at Interactiv­e Investor, said: ‘Although the Farage debanking row caused the bank’s former chief executive major reputation­al damage and cost Rose her job, the latest twist in the saga could help her financiall­y, by potentiall­y saving her at least part of her £10m pay package.

‘The ICO said its investigat­ion did not find that she breached data protection law, a factor that’s likely to be considered when it comes to her remunerati­on.’

A spokesman for Rose declined to comment yesterday.

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